There are many churches that jumped to meet the need for online services in 2020 and 2021. With 2023 around the corner, we know that many have gotten back into the swing of in person services, but the online option is still there for many who are not able to attend in person. Since we’ve had a whole year or two under our belts of online services, the question of how to improve engagement for those online still lingers for many churches. Let’s explore a few ways to keep the people who are not able to attend in person for whatever reason, engaged while viewing online.
Actively engage with your online congregation
Press your pastors to say “Hi!” to everyone viewing online and, once you have that down, have someone monitoring and engaging in the chat box. We love being present in person with our church family but when we are traveling or one of our kids is sick, we really enjoy the opportunity to log onto YouTube (where my church hosts the service) to listen to message and be a part of the church we love, even from a distance. Our pastor usually does a great job engaging with the viewers online verbally and that means a great deal to us, but think about how great it would be to the community viewing online if they had an ability to feel even more engaged. If this is a possibility for your church, investigate how you might be able to have someone type a quick “Hey! So glad you are here online with us today!” into the chat and engage the viewers that are not able to be there in person. Only have a comment section? Ask the pastor or person delivering the announcements to invite those watching to leave a comment and have a member of the staff replying or acknowledging them as they are submitted.
Have a downloadable handout
If someone is listening to your sermon online, its likely they are doing something else at the same time or getting pulled by something within their space. But, if they have something to follow, such as an outline or a slides handout of the message being delivered, this would become engaging to them as the pastor moves along. It having a handout also creates opportunities to make connections with the message of your sermon and the online viewers. But wait, more opportunity exists here! A handout is also an opportunity to post an announcement or two about upcoming events and remind those that are watching online that you’d love to see them in person if possible. And, if you are the church communicator in charge of making sure last-minute changes get into the slides, there’s a workaround for that! Key to remember, record, and recite to your audience “There may have been a few changes so stay with me!” What a great opportunity for them to provide grace.
Image and Audio
At this point in time, many churches have been delivering online sermons consistently for a couple years. If you have not invested in a quality microphone or two and/or a great camera to capture the sermon, you are likely missing some great return on your investment in terms of gospel spreading! We would love to know the equipment you’ve been using in the Community Facebook group. (Our Church Communications Community is full of knowledge and excellent suggestions!) Come on over and tell us your favorite tech here.
Make it a podcast
You may think it may take a little while to figure this out but it truly only takes a couple of YouTube videos for you to turn your sermons into podcasts. Once you have your great audio and can record, you are on your way to being able to deliver your church’s messages in a quick and easy way to your audience. Bonus, having a podcast allows the listener to see all the other messages you have recorded for them right there so, if the Holy Spirit moves them to another title, its right there for them to hear, think, and pray on.
How else have you been able to engage your online viewers? We hope you’ll share your wins with us in the community here!